Peters' activity in recruiting students and donations, and constantly striving to make his department's program the best it can be, is why he is one of the third-place winners in the Best Instructor contest sponsored by The NEWS and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).
"Ray has over 30 years of experience teaching HVAC students and has always been highly regarded by his students and colleagues," said Bill Matthews, HVACR Dept. Chair, Linn State Technical College. "He has always made the students his No. 1 priority."
Peters' industry involvement hasn't been limited to his work to expand Linn State Tech's HVACR Department. "Ray has been a member of RSES [Refrigeration Service Engineers Society] for more than 15 years and was instrumental in starting our local chapter," said Matthews, who nominated Peters. In fact, Peters was named 2006 RSES V.V. Solomon Award recipient at the society's 2006 meeting.
HOW IT ALL STARTEDWhen Peters entered the HVACR trade, he was looking for something he could make a living at. "I was in the military, and I didn't have any civilian skills," he said. The military was offering an early discharge for people who would train to go into certain trades, including HVAC.
Peters accepted the offer, and received his training at Wichita State Vo-Tech. After working in the trade four or five years, in 1976 he was offered a teaching position at Linn State Tech which, at the time, did not have a heating-cooling program.
"Back then, we started out with just a couple of furnaces and air conditioners in the second-year program." (The first-year program is refrigeration.) Now the second-year program has "a tremendous amount of equipment."
The training area includes an earth-coupled, water-source heat pump lab with 16 WaterFurnace units. "I think that might be more than WaterFurnace has at their factory training center," Peters speculated. There also is a large air-source heat pump lab.
PROGRAM GROWTHPeters has been credited with growing both the curriculum and enrollment. "He maintains a relaxed environment with a mixture of lecture and hands-on shop projects," said Matthews. "The student is always encouraged to do the best that he or she can."
Students are recruited through personal contacts, Peters said. Regular tours are given of the facility. "Contractors stay in touch with us as a source of new technicians," he said. "If a tech has graduated from here, the contractor knows he has someone special."
The school is currently installing a dual-fuel system shop sponsored by Trane. The facility also has C&C plasma cutting machines in its sheet metal lab.
"We are in a really small geographic area here," said Peters. The department's staff consists of "just two teachers and an aid." The second-year program typically has 35 students per semester.
The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation-accredited program offers students industry certification testing including North American Technician Excellence (NATE), Industry Competency Exams (ICE), and RSES Certificate Membership (CM). The school also sponsors and administers state/regional Skills USA/VICA competition.
"Over the past 30 years, I have made a lot of friends with graduating students," Peters said. "My reward has always been to see them go out and be successful in the trade. This award validates what I have seen from the graduates."
Publication date: 11/13/2006